(Scot Anderson, Discovery Channel/Scot Anderson)
Are you ready for Shark Week? Discovery celebrates 25 years of great whites with new programs.
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
The soundtrack from the 1975 movie Jaws, rumbling in our heads as we dip our toes into the ocean, is a summer tradition. As is Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which this year kicks off its 25th year of jaw-dropping programming on Sunday.
And the most emotional premiere this year could well be Shark Fight (Wednesday, 9 ET/PT), which profiles shark-attack victims who lived to talk about it.
Among them: Mike Coots, who in 1997 lost his leg to a tiger shark while surfing off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Five weeks after the attack, Coots, who was 18 years old at the time, was back in the water. He now surfs with a prosthetic leg.
The resilient Coots holds no grudge; he has made peace with one of the world's most frightening predators. "Pretty much my whole life was about the ocean," Coots says. "After I was bitten, I just felt blessed to be alive and never had any hostility or any anger toward sharks."
He and other survivors recently advocated for shark conservation on Capitol Hill- an estimated 70 million sharks are killed annually, most of them for their fins, which are prized as a delicacy - and he helped pass Hawaii's ban on the possession and sale of fins.
That attitude embodies the ethos of Shark Week, whose programming celebrates the thrill of viewing the majestic beasts in their natural environment, says executive producer Brooke Runnette. "It's more about embracing the animals rather than our fear of them. We've tapped into something that's very fundamental. Sharks are the one animal on Earth that still puts us in our place on the food chain."
Among other new offerings during Shark Week, cable's longest-running programming event:
Air Jaws Apocalypse (Sunday, 9 ET/PT): In this follow-up to last year's Emmy-nominated Ultimate Air Jaws, a team travels to South Africa's Seal Island to study great whites, including one particularly scary 14-foot big boy known as Colossus.
•Sharkzilla (Monday, 9 ET/PT): The extinct Megaladon comes alive as a crew designs and builds a replica of the 52-foot-long, 50-ton prehistoric shark, complete with hydraulic jaws.
•MythBusters' Jawsome Shark Special (Monday, 10 ET/PT): Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman count down the top 25 shark myths.
For many, the human story still trumps the shark tale. Coots says the question he's asked most is, "Why would you go back in the water?" His response: "How could I not? The ocean is everything to me, and the odds of getting bitten again are one in quadruple billion."
•Sink your teeth into JawsFest, 7B